Previous reviews are at Mack Pitches Up

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mystery Man by Colin Bateman

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland. Present day.

This is another contribution to the European selection for Dorte's 2010 Global Reading Challenge

No Alibis (slogan: Murder is our Business) is a Belfast, Ireland mystery bookshop next door to a detective agency. When the detective goes missing leaving open cases, the clients naturally assume that the unnamed owner of the bookstore is involved in the business and come to the store for resolution. Mystery Man happily takes on small case such as stolen leather pants and harassing graffiti to supplement the lack of income from operating a bookstore.

Two things happen to complicate his life. He finally speaks to Alison, a sales clerk from the jewelry store across the street. He had been following her from afar until a book event puts them together. She is surprisingly interested in the detective business and attaches herself as sidekick. The case of the missing publisher's wife takes dangerous turn and his detecting is no longer a diverting pass time.

Our Mystery Man hero is cowardly, paranoid, obsessive compulsive, and lives with his unseen mother. I have a mental image of him looking like Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho. He also delivers wonderfully snarky comments:
... the shop door opened and a man came in and asked if I could recommend the new John Grisham and I said, yes, if you are a moron.

I found the book humorous in a "I'm going to read passages out loud to my wife until she gives up and moves to another room" way. Mystery Man serves Chianti and fava beans for Serial Killer Week and along the way offers sardonic observations about the independent book business, the customers, well-known crime authors, and publishers. Highly recommended.

I loved this book, good black humor and a decent mystery, a perfect fun read. The sequel, The Day of the Jack Russell, is available through The Book Depository with a 10 June 2010 paperback publishing date. Speaking of The Book Depository, did you know that they have a web page that plots books purchased on a world map in real-time? Just now someone in New Zealand bought The American Indian. Oddly compelling to watch.

I learned about Mystery Man by way of Declan Burke. Here is his review in

Another good review is at Crime Scene NI